Monday, January 1, 2024

Saying 8


And he said, ‘A man is like a wise fisherman who threw his net into the sea. He pulled it up from the sea full of small fish. From among them he found a good, large fish. The wise fisherman threw all of the small fish out into the sea and chose the large fish without trouble. Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear.’


Several teachings in Thomas fit the more rural setting of Galilee—farming, fishing, artisan labor, and even the presence of militant ideology—which strengthens the historical possibility that such sayings go back to Jesus of Nazareth. The parable in Saying 8 closely resembles one in the Gospel of Matthew, though they differ in the details. Matthew’s version draws attention to the net, which symbolizes God’s kingdom, while Saying 8 focuses on the fisherman as a representation of any person. The interpretation appended to the parable in Matthew belongs to the distinct style of that gospel’s author, who occasionally mentions the threat of eternal torment in a way absent even from his primary source, the Gospel of Mark. The author’s interpretation is placed in Jesus’ mouth, granting the author’s personal understanding of the parable authority in his readers’ eyes. The version in Saying 8 is still eschatological, but rather than focusing on the final judgment of God’s kingdom, attention is given to how a person will arrive in God’s kingdom: through ‘wise’ discernment.



1.16–18 As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you fish for people.’ And immediately they left their nets and followed him.


13.47–50 ‘Again, the kingdom of the sky is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind. When it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

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